Community Voices

Crime Watch: Readers, official respond to fraud issues

Last week I wrote about tax fraud and what you have to do and not do regarding it. I received lots of emails from readers who have experienced lots of issues last year.

Yes, our Medicare cards have our Social Security numbers, and that is why thieves want them in order to open accounts and fraudulently file tax returns. If you remember, I told you that last year my tax return was hijacked and I had to jump through lots of loops to protect myself. If you remember, I told all of you back then that the only way we are going to change the Medicare system is to contact our congressional leaders. Many of you wrote to them with no response. I never got a response from my congressional group either, so don’t feel bad.

But I am not giving up. As I sit here writing this I already have my secretary writing to Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Bill Nelson and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo, Frederica Wilson and Mario Diaz-Balart for them to address this issue to prevent ID theft on our behalf.

Here are some emails I got I want to share with you that I responded to:

Dear Carmen:

What do “we” do about the Medicare card? Not carry the insurance card needed at every hospital or healthcare provider? Will “our” brilliant government officials EVER figure out that the Social Security number could be augmented with an additional random six-digit pin number? Just as the IRS has Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN) for certain individuals and for corporations, nonprofits, charities, etc. ... It would make logical sense to replace the Social Security number on the Medicare card with MIN (MEDICARE Identification Number) to be used on any matter involving MEDICARE (and Medicaid, for that matter) ... oh, wait a minute — I wrote LOGICAL ... silly me.

Dear Ms. Caldwell:

I always enjoy reading your informative column in the Neighbors’ section of the Miami Herald. I would like to share an experience with you I had this week. I received a phone call from a man who identified himself as “Jacob, calling from Medicare.” He wanted to know if I was a Medicare recipient. He had the same distinguished accent as persons calling regarding my computer (which I definitely know is a scam). I said to him, if he was from Medicare, he should know if I am a Medicare recipient or not. His answer was, that he was trying to verify if I was on Medicare. I did not continue the conversation and hung up the phone. I wonder, if you have heard of this and if this could be another scam. Sincerely, Monika Farris.

From the IRS media person:

Carmen:

I read your recent (Feb. 3) column in the Miami Herald regarding identity theft. You may have already seen this but I thought it was important enough to bring to your attention. http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-IP-PIN-pilot-continues-in-Georgia,-Florida-and-the-District-of-Columbia.

Tax-related identity theft is a top priority at the IRS. All taxpayers who filed federal returns last year from Florida, Georgia or the District of Columbia are eligible for an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) that will help protect them from tax-related identity theft.

Michael Dobzinski, IRS Media Relations Specialist

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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